Tao Geoghegan Hart races toward the camera at the 2019 Tour of Lombardy. He's alone, on a narrow road lined with fans, and his mouth is open as he gives chase.

The way-too-early transfer assessment

With several big-name riders still to settle their 2024 plans, what does transfer season so far tell us about next year?

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 23.08.2023 Photography by
Kristof Ramon and Cor Vos
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Silly season is upon us, and I do not mean the Vuelta a España. I mean, I do, but in a different way. Here we’re talking transfers and rosters. As of this writing, dozens of riders are looking for contracts for 2024, including some fairly big names (see below). 

But there have also been some big moves announced, and that starts to give us an idea of what the team landscape looks like for 2024. Some teams are going to look much different, others about the same, and some of the strongest are improbably getting even stronger. Here’s our admittedly premature rundown of the highlights and what they mean.

Biggest makeover – Lidl-Trek

Pending an update on the Remco Evenepoel sweepstakes, no WorldTour team has reshaped its roster more than Lidl-Trek, which appears ready to go all-in on the Grand Tour GCs with new signee Tao Geoghegan Hart. In some ways, Geoghegan Hart follows Lidl-Trek’s pattern of talent acquisition for GC riders: as with Vincenzo Nibali and Richie Porte, the team targeted an established, veteran contender with proven results. 

But Geoghegan Hart, who enters his age 29 season next year, is notably younger than Nibali (35) and Porte (34) when they joined. His results are also more uneven, with the 2020 Giro d’Italia win followed by a couple of lesser seasons before this year’s rebound and then crash-DNF at the Giro while in third overall. What’s also notable is the addition of solid climbing support: Patrick Konrad, Ryan Gibbons, and young talent Andrea Bagioli. All that presages a likely shift from a team that mostly hunted stages at Grand Tours – with lots of success – to an overall contender. The wildcard? Sprinter Jonathan Milan, who complements Mads Pedersen but also draws resources away from GC campaigns.

Biggest question mark – Ineos Grenadiers

As I observed the other day, no team has seen an outflow of talent this year like Ineos, and the other side of that ledger – confirmed transfers in – is currently empty. The longer that continues, the more it suggests a high-stakes courtship of Evenepoel (not to mention rumors of even a merger with Soudal Quick-Step). But as it stands right now, no team has more questions swirling around it than Ineos.

With four confirmed departures including stage racers Geoghegan Hart, Dani Martinez, and Pavel Sivakov, plus Ben Tulett, they’re not even at the minimum threshold for a WorldTour roster. Geraint Thomas is out of contract, Carlos Rodriguez is linked (maybe?) to Movistar, and several other longtime members like Luke Rowe and Jonathan Castroviejo also don’t have deals for next year. 

The Ineos Grenadiers team is shown at the 2023 Giro d'Italia teams presentation. The eight riders are on stage, flanked around Italian star Filippo Ganna at center. At far left is Tao Geoghegan Hart, the 2020 Giro winner, and Geraint Thomas is far right. Of the eight riders shown, two are confirmed to be leaving, and three others may.
It says something about Ineos’s talent outflow that more than half the team’s Giro lineup is confirmed to be gone or out of contract.

Biggest leadership change – Groupama-FDJ

David Gaudu has well and truly won. The French climber’s spats with Arnaud Démare were well-known, but when Démare was left off the team’s Tour de France squad that spelled the end for the French sprinter’s time with the only team he’s ever known, and he’s off to Arkea-Samsic in a rare August transfer. With Thibaut Pinot retiring, there’s a massive vacuum in star power at Groupama, and Gaudu’s up-and-down performances don’t lend full reassurance that he can fill it.

Who might? No offense to new signees Sven Erik Bystrøm and Clément Russo, but all eyes are on a couple of in-house projects already on the team: young climbers Romain Gregoire and Lenny Martinez (the son of former World Champion mountain bike racer Miguel Martinez, which makes me feel old). Groupama’s transfer list is short, but its brevity belies its impact. With the departure of team stalwarts Démare (12 years) and Pinot (14 seasons), it’s probably not hyperbole to say that the soul of the team is changing, and no one yet knows what the new one will be.

Arnaud Demare smiles in the winner's press conference at the Brussels Cycling Classic. The black-and-white photo still shows the unmistakeable tricolore jersey of French national champion, and the only thing more breathtaking than Arnaud's smile is his swept-back hair, which looks impossibly good for a guy who just did a five-hour bike race.
Arnaud Démare has raced his entire 12-year career on Marc Madiot’s team, but new horizons came fast.

Biggest “we don’t rebuild; we reload” haul – Jumbo-Visma

Few teams have made more consequential roster additions the past few years than Jumbo-Visma in its effort to support Primož Roglič and now Jonas Vingegaard’s Grand Tour campaigns. Dylan van Baarle, Tiesj Benoot, and Christophe Laporte have all been vital contributors, and the team has also worked to ensure foundational riders like Sepp Kuss are happy to stay rather than search for more money and opportunity elsewhere. 2024 will be a continuation of the theme.

Inbound: the afore-mentioned Tulett, an intriguing 21-year-old GC prospect, and the highly anticipated WorldTour debut of Johannes Staune-Mittet, a Norwegian who’s been in the Jumbo development pipeline for three seasons already. Staune-Mittet won the “baby Giro” this season and the 2022 Ronde de l’Isard, but a crash-DNF forced him out of this year’s Tour de l’Avenir, where he was a favorite.

Oh, they’re not done: Jumbo’s also picking up Matteo Jorgenson, who will be 25 next July and just had his best season. The guy can climb, time-trial, and seems pretty handy on cobblestones too – just the kind of versatile threat that Jumbo can develop into an absolute monster. The only way to make this roster any deeper would be to hire James Cameron.

Matteo Jorgenson climbs the access road to the summit of Puy de Dôme in the 2023 Tour de France. He's all alone, with only a neutral-service motorbike for company. He's been on a long solo breakaway and the climb is closed to fans. Soon, he'll be caught and passed by stage winner Michael Woods, but for now, Jorgenson is alone with his thoughts and the effort.
Matteo Jorgenson had to shift expectations for his Tour de France role when Enric Mas crashed out on stage 1 and nearly came up with a stage win on Puy de Dôme.

Biggest whiff (maybe) – Movistar

Jorgenson’s departure seems like it opens up some opportunities at Movistar as well, which will be down to Enric Mas as its main GC threat. For most of summer, Carlos Rodriguez was the likeliest signee candidate: a ridiculously talented Spaniard coming “home” to a Spanish team. But it’s now late August and no deal is announced, leading to word Rodriguez may be staying at Ineos. 

If that does come to pass, Mas might be the hardest-working contender in the peloton. Like Ineos, Movistar has a ton of riders out of contract and no confirmed signees yet, and Mas needs help. It seems like a lot is riding on the Rodriguez option, but with Movistar unsure it has a winning hand it’s not making any other moves yet.

Prominent unsigned riders

Outside of retiring riders, there are several pretty big names without deals yet for 2024. A brief look (there are literally dozens more). Here’s an admittedly subjective look at some of the most notable riders yet to find a ride for next season.

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